Everyone said the first year would be the hardest...

Brett and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary on December 19th, sorry this took so long to post!

Everyone said the first year would be the hardest.

I hope they're right.

Not because this past year was a struggle, but because it was heaven. If the worst is over, then I'd love to see what is to come.

It's not that everything has been perfect, we've had our fair share of trials, but I find that Brett and I are very well suited for married life.

As the babies of our families (Brett being the youngest in his family to marry) I think some looked at our young marriage as a juvenile dream based on unrealistic ideas about marriage and love. I think some even secretly hoped that the big bad world of marriage would blow up in our faces so that they could say, "I told you so." I can't even begin to count the number of times someone (sometimes a stranger) would ask us how long we'd been married in reaction to our comments on the joys of marriage or our cuddly nature. No matter how long we'd been married the person would say, "Oh just you wait till you hit the ____ month mark. Then you'll see." It always seemed to be the next month, so Brett and I would wait for the 3 month mark, 4 month mark, 8 month mark. It seemed to be a ticking time bomb that still has yet to explode. I'm not saying that I think marriage is easy, every marriage has its struggles, but it is so beyond worth it. Marriage isn't a "ball and chain." Quite the contrary, marriage is the greatest blessing in my life and the funnest adventure.

I was terrified of marriage as a young girl. Sure I was still a hopeless romantic and dreamed of the white dress, who the man would be, and what my kids would look like one day. Like any other little girl, I spun the stem off the top of the apple, counting the letters "A, B, C..." to find out the first letter of the name of the man I would marry. But having grown up in a single home, I had a very tough time thinking about the actual specifics of marriage. The idea of two partners that give and take and work together was something that was a bit foreign to me. My mother raised me on her own, and the only example of a marriage I had was my dad and step-mom who I only saw on occasional trips to Idaho. That was one of the only examples I really had in my life, and sadly a week after Brett and I announced our engagement I received news that that marriage too was ending in a divorce. I guess divorce is what has always made me terrified of marriage. In a way, I think people avoid things that have hurt them.

But I was lucky to have an amazing example in my life, my mother, who always taught me wonderful lessons from mistakes. She always stressed the importance of learning a lesson after we made a mistake and she also taught us lessons from her life. She has always been incredibly open with me about her marriage to my dad and what went wrong. Though it is hard to hear sometimes, I appreciate her advice and openness. She also always reminded me that although her marriage didn't work out, I have the power to make mine successful. I've heard all the studies saying that children of divorced parents are "at risk" for getting a divorce and all other kinds of challenges. But my mom always reminded us that we had control over our lives and the power to make it what we want. I feel like because of all these lessons from my mother I entered my marriage with realistic expectations and I was already armed with life lessons I had learned from her.

Brett made me brave. Even before he left on his mission I could easily imagine being married to him, growing old with him, and taking on the challenges of life together. And I so looked forward to it. Brett's two year mission strengthened our relationship because we had to support and love one another up from thousands of miles apart. Our relationship survived many trials and challenges that those two years apart brought us. And we are stronger for it.

When Brett got back and we realized quickly that this was it we were both a bit scared. Though we were both thrilled we had found one another, marriage was an intimidating thing for two 21 year olds. But we knew it was all going to work out and that we would begin this amazing adventure together. Though I didn't have a solid example of a marriage "gone right," I did have Brett and our united faith that we were meant to be together and that we could work through anything. As time went by I realized all the amazing examples of marriage I did have, like Brett's parents Cliff and Lynne, and our siblings Eric and Kelly, Brian and Angie, Lars and Kera, Becca and Matt, James and Tiffany, Mike and Katie, and Denise and Jason. We also had so much support from family and friends who had been rooting for us for years.

Where I am weak, Brett is strong, and vice-versa... We work so well together. Brett has taught me that I don't have to do everything on my own. And I've taught him to dance. Marriage has been a fun adventure and it's been so incredible to have my best-friend and love with me day in day out. We strengthen one another and lift each other up. We help one another through the tough times and celebrate the good times.

More than anything, I've loved all the little things of marriage: the shared toothbrush holder, getting tucked in, picking up milk and bread from the grocery store, giving up the last cookie, decorating our Christmas tree, writing little love notes, still Facebook stalking each other when we live in the same home, holding hands in the car, arguing over who's turn it is to turn out the light... etc.

And I hope that we are still that nauseating snugly couple years from now, still being asked if we are newlyweds...


The true meaning of Christmas

These two videos are incredible reminders that we need to remember the true meaning of Christmas and what it means to truly have Christmas spirit.

The first, a story about a young girl with true Christmas spirit who quietly teaches her preoccupied family the true meaning of Christmas.

The second features a small child who narrates the Nativity and suggests that people should show greater love to each other and thus, follow Christ's example. It is adorable.


Married life in 4 minutes

This is a clip from Pixar's most recent film Up. If you haven't seen up yet I highly recommend that you do. It is a sweet and beautiful piece of art, an absolute masterpiece about love, life, and adventure.

This clip is about Ellie and Carl, summarizing their life together as man and wife. It's amazing that in 4 minutes, with no dialogue, that the Pixar team was able to portray the ups and downs of a life-long marriage. I laugh and cry every time I watch it.

What a wonderful tribute to love.

Be sure to watch both clips. :)

After Ellie passes away, Carl flies to Paradise Falls by attaching thousands of balloons to his house. After quite the adventure, he finally arrives to the waterfall that he and Ellie always wanted to go to together. Once there, he feels alone and misses Ellie more than ever. He sadly looks at her childhood "Adventure book" saddened that she died before they could have this adventure together. Watch to see what he finds in the book...


Amazing Dance

Loved it.



Women and Spirituality Survey

A friend of mine is doing a study on women and spirituality.

She would love to hear your opinion. She has created one of the only surveys designed to assess the influence of spirituality on the lives of women. The results will be compiled in a white paper available this winter. This survey is brief-- only 3 minutes-- and your input is vital to its success. Click below to participate now.


Please spread the word by sharing the url. Invite every woman you know! Our goal is a minimum of 5,000 responses.

If you liked the survey, follow her on twitter, facebook, her blog, and her community.





Marriage quote that makes me smile

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness'."

-from the movie Shall We Dance


This Halloween Brett and I decided to go as Ryan and Sharpay Evans from High School Musical.


Wordless Wednesday...

My cousin Carrie Krainock has a recurring post on her Blog titled Wordless Wednesday. In this she posts a simple photo, no words. Inspired by her, I've decided to start my own Wordless Wednesdays. Here goes!


Summing up summer: Las Vegas

Brett and I made a pit-stop in Vegas while on our way to AZ with my Mom. We were heading to AZ for my niece Alena's birthday party and to help my Mom move back up to SLC.

On our a quick overnight in Vegas Brett and I planned an amazing date night. We dressed up fancy and went and saw Phantom of the Opera. We followed that up with a delicious buffet. It was so worth it. The Vegas production of Phantom of the Opera was incredible. If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend taking a trip and seeing it. Even Brett loved the music, scenery, and special effects.

The next day we hit up Serendipity with my Mom. We couldn't get enough of that frozzzen hot chocolate!

Summing up summer: Norway and Sweden

I have been pretty bad about staying up to date on this blog but I am trying my best to catch up again. Bear with me :)

Sweden and Norway

Brett and I had the amazing opportunity to go to Sweden and Norway with Brett's parents June 18th -July 6th. It was my first time out of the country. I loved meeting all the new people, seeing the new sights, hearing a strange language, and learning about a completely different culture.

In Norway we visited the small town of Mo. Brett has relatives from there. It was a pretty scary drive (literally only 1 car fit on a road at at time and it was just winding around blind turns and into dark tunnel after tunnel), but this sight was worth the trip!

We went on a boat ride around Stockholm for almost 2 hours seeing beautiful architecture like this and learning all about he history of the city.

This was my favorite part of Stockholm, Gamla Stan, the older part of the city. It was such an amazing atmosphere.

This was a big field we passed on our way to catch our ferry to Norway. The colors are gorgeous.

Brett and me in Gamla Stan again. Aren't these little streets and buildings incredible?

We also competed in three track meets while we were there. They were so fun! The atmosphere was so intense and it was so strange listening to all officials speak in Swedish.

Brett and me at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium where they held the 1912 Olympics.

I matched my Seasons Best in the 100 at a meet that was completely JAM PACKED with fans. I couldn't believe how big track was over there!

We spent a lot of time visiting Brett's relatives and family friends. Everyone was so friendly and sweet. We loved our experience going there and hope we can go back again someday.

Fun little note:

The picture that we use with our Blog title was also from our Norway trip. It was taken at 11:45 pm! We were there in the summer so it was light from 3 am till Midnight everyday!


Share the love :)

This is an amazing video that has a great message no matter what your faith may be.

So often I find myself getting wrapped up in the trivial stresses of daily life that I forget to focus on what is really important in life. This video is a happy reminder that what is most important are the relationships we have with others.

So share the love.

"Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved"


Camping at Island Lake

Brett and I went camping this past weekend with one of our best good friends Chelsey Kaplar. We went up to the Uintahs and hiked in to Island Lake elevation 11,000 feet. We hiked in about 4 miles armed with tents, beef jerky, "Pit" cards, and freeze dried beef stew. Chelsey provided well needed snack packs and her dog Keeva for bear protection. If Keeva didn't do the trick she also had a can of bear mace tucked in her pocket.

We spent the majority of our time eating (as with most camping excursions) and another large part throwing rocks into the lake from a giant cliff that looked quite a bit like Pride Rock from the Lion King.
Needless to say it proved to be an amazing journey. We enjoyed going back to the basics and keeping ourselves entertained with simple things like: finding the perfect sling shot rock, sabotaging a game of "pit", watching boy scouts jump off a 50 foot cliff into frigid water, breaking firewood with large rocks (or trying to cut through it with a pocket knife... cough... Chelsey) and listening for the code word from Chelsey's tent to tell us she was still alive.



Brett did it! He took THIRD PLACE! He made all conference as a Freshman, following two years of no training on his mission, and as a newlywed who's been commuting to BYU every day to make practices. I'd say it's quite the feat!

It was a pretty dramatic finish. He was going in to finals in fourth place and was lagging the Air Force guy in third by around 70 points... and second place Wyoming by 175 points. It also just so happened that Air Force's favorite event was the 1500. Gripes.... But Brett ran his heart out and managed to beat the guy in second by over 30 seconds!!!! He bumped Wyoming to fourth place and beat him by 3 points! You can't write this stuff!!! It was incredible.

He had a great overall two days in all of his events with All-time/ seasonal PRs in:
Long Jump
100 m Dash
110 Hurdles

He also had consistent solid performances in Pole Vault and High Jump.

We are SOOO Proud! Pictures to follow!


Conference Championships

Brett and I will both be competing at the Mountain West Conference Championships this week in Laramie Wyoming.

Brett is going in ranked 2nd in the Decathlon! Decathletes are pretty hard core, they compete in 10 events: 100, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400, 100 hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and the 1,500. It's a two day competition that will take place Wednesday and Thursday. It's a big deal that he is competing because his team only took 28 of their athletes. over 35 of their athletes qualified for Regionals!

On Friday Brett and I will be long jumping at the same time with 40 mph winds. Could be very interesting. :) Then I will be running the starting leg of the 4x100 relay on Saturday. I'm also the alternate for the 4x400.

I am so excited that we get to both go and share this experience together.

Also, I am sooo excited to see how Utah does! We have worked so hard to make this program what it is today. I am so proud of all of our Regional Qualifiers and the girls who work hard everyday to get better. It's sad for me that this may be my last meet as an NCAA athlete. I'm going to miss it, but I am also looking foward to the next phase of my life.

I'll post again after the meet to let everyone know how both of our teams do. :)



I'm walking on May 8th, 2009 at 9 am at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Guests are urged to be seated by 8:30 am.

This year's featured speaker is author David McCullough. At the end of the commencement ceremony degrees are conferred en masse by University of Utah President Michael K. Young.

In addition to general commencement, each college holds a convocation ceremony, where students are acknowledged individually by degree.

The Convocation Ceremony for Humanities will be held at the Huntsman Center at 1:45 pm.

For more guest information including campus maps and parking information click here:

Hope you can come!


These are a few of our favorite things

So we thought we'd just add a little snippet in here as a bit of a glimpse into our daily life as a married couple. Married life is pretty much the greatest thing ever for countless reasons. It's amazing all the new things you get to do as a couple. Apart from the obvious, :) here are a few of our favorite things to do together.

Favorite things:

Boy Meets World: Brett grew up as a die hard Cory and Tapanga fan. I watched a few episodes growing up, but never got way into it. We now own all 7 seasons and watch an episode... or two... sometimes 3... while making dinner or as a homework break.

Brett and I were sick last week and spent a lot of nights in. One evening while sipping on some homemade cider I made up, I asked Brett what his Mom did for him when he was sick. He told me that she read to him. So, I got out a book and started reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I read 45 pages that first night... The next night when we brought out the book again I mentioned where we had left off, "The Blue man had just told his story..." Brett's response was... "What BLUE man??" Brett only remembered the first 18 pages. I guess he had fallen asleep. He re-read those 25 pages and then another 50 till we realized it was 3 am and we should probably get some sleep. BTW, I remember all 95 of those pages :) hahaha.

Dollar Movies (or even better: 50 cent movies):
Brett and I have mastered the art of having fun on a budget. It's either a Free Redbox, or a Dollar Movie. I know I know, BIG spenders right? Our favorite time to go is for Monday Night Movies, because the movies are only 50 cents for families. (Okay quick irony. It's called Dollar Movies but the movies cost $1.75.) So we went for 50 cent Monday movie night but I guess that since the Brett and Haley Birkeland family only consists of 2 we were charged 1.75 per ticket, $3.50. We then asked to buy three tickets. The man at the desk replied "$1.50 please." We felt so clever.

Talking... and Talking... and Talking:
We are now enjoying the greatest perk of marriage. No curfew. So what do we do? We stay inside, talk, and stay up much later than we should. Just last night we planned on getting to bed by 11 since I had to wake up at 6:20 for early morning weights. We were in bed on time... but one conversation led to another... and before we knew it, it was 2. The best part is that even though I am a little bit tired the next day, those conversations are a highlight to my life.

Family Time:
So this is more so for me than Brett... but I have especially loved having a family close by again. We often visit Brett's siblings or parents, go on trips to the cabin, watch the big game, or eat Sunday dinner with Brett's parents. Even better is the fact that Brett is my family now and we are together all the time.

"Buying Things":
Another perk of being a newlywed couple is that we have tons of unused gift cards and certificates. We feel like big spenders when we go into Bed, Bath, and Beyond and come out with bags of kitchen goodies and other household items. We are so grateful for the generosity of others and that we have been able to make out little place so homey. :)

Ti Wouj:
A few weeks back after coming out of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I joked with Brett that we should go check out Petco (knowing that Brett doesn't like pets.) I mentioned we could look at fish and he actually said yes. So we went in and I thought we were going to just look at the fish for a bit and then leave, but leave empty handed we did NOT. Brett looked like a little kid in a candy store. He got a little glimmer in his eye when he asked if we could get one. He had so much fun picking out the fish and the bowl and the kind and color of gravel. We proudly came home with little Ti Wouj (Haitian for Little Red). He can be our number 3 in the Birkeland Family. :)


Reception Photos

Click on this link to see our gorgeous reception photos. :)